Rating: Significant Shortcomings
Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Marlene Perez
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Jessica Walsh and her friends, a team of teenage girls fighting off the near-constant stream of paranormal villains in their California town, come up against a demonic horse on the beach. When the residents of the town start experiencing night terrors, Jessica connects the bad dreams to the “night mare,” but that’s only the beginning of the supernatural mayhem. Haunted marionettes, a creepy clown, and landscape paintings showing people’s worst fears combine to unveil a threat around every corner. Several unexplainable murders fill the town with dread. At the city’s huge Day of the Dead party, the girls hunt down the source of the evil, and—at least for a while—the town of Nightshade is safe from threat.
As one in a series, this book lacks the depth to stand on its own. The characters are cursorily drawn. They exist to fill spaces in the supernatural order of things (the psychic, the werewolf, etc.), but are not fleshed out. Most of their characterization functions to remind readers of storylines from previous adventures. Similarly, the plot moves quickly from event to event with simple description. Readers are told what happens but are not expected to invest any emotion other than reaction in a manner reminiscent of Scooby Doo cartoon storylines. This book would be particularly appropriate for middle grade readers who are interested in dipping their toes into paranormal stories without subjecting themselves to gore, graphic violence, mature romantic relationships, or psychological ramifications of living in constant danger.
*Contains mild violence.